[MARMAM] Cross-species vocal learning in killer whales

Ann E. Bowles abowles at hswri.com
Wed Oct 8 11:10:03 PDT 2014

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article:

Musser, W.B., A.E. Bowles, D.M. Grebner, and J.L. 
Crance.  2014.  Differences in acoustic features of vocalizations 
produced by killer whales
cross-socialized with bottlenose dolphins.  Journal of the Acoustical 
Society of America, 137(4): 1990-2002.



Limited previous evidence suggests that killer whales (Orcinus orca) 
are capable of vocal production learning.
However, vocal contextual learning has not been studied, nor the 
factors promoting learning.
Vocalizations were collected from three killer whales with a history 
of exposure to bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus) and compared with data from seven killer whales 
held with conspecifics and nine bottlenose dolphins.
The three whales' repertoires were distinguishable by a higher 
proportion of click trains and whistles.
Time-domain features of click trains were intermediate between those 
of whales held with conspecifics and dolphins.
These differences provided evidence for contextual learning.  One 
killer whale spontaneously learned to produce
artificial chirps taught to dolphins; acoustic features fell within 
the range of inter-individual differences
among the dolphins.  This whale also produced whistles similar to a 
stereotyped whistle produced by one dolphin.
Thus, results provide further support for vocal production learning and
show that killer whales are capable of contextual learning.  That 
killer whales produce similar repertoires
when associated with another species suggests substantial vocal 
plasticity and motivation for vocal
conformity with social associates.

Ann E. Bowles, PhD
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
<mailto:abowles at hswri.org>abowles at hswri.org

Ann E. Bowles, PhD | Program Leader, Bioacoustics
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
2595 Ingraham Street  |  San Diego  |  CA 92109
Phone: (619) 226-3870  |  Fax: (619) 226-3944
<mailto:abowles at hswri.org>abowles at hswri.org | www.hswri.org

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